Monday, July 30, 2012

Osborne Village Condos

 548 Stradbrook, home of the old Phi Delta Theta Rat House

It would appear that the strategy for Osborne Village is that condo homes should be on average 1,200 square feet. Yes, you heard that right. That is bigger than many Winnipeg homes! Don't want the density to get too high or for people to have affordable alternatives to these bigger condos. No, that would be awful.

The design from 5468796 Architecture is nothing to write home about in early drawings. It is a four story building set to replace the 12 unit three story house that was home to Phi Delta Theta.

During the big comeback of the fraternities in the 1980s, there were four houses of fraternities all within walking distance of one another. Delta Kappa Epsilon (Dekes) was on Roslyn Road across Osborne Street. On Wilmot Place were two frats, Delta Upsilon (DUs) and Zeta Psi (Zetes). Stradbrook Avenue was home to Phi Delta Theta (Rats).

Each one of these homes housed University of Winnipeg and Manitoba students. They were also host to social events every weekend. The famous four houses were often assisted in these parties by the four sororities: Alpha Delta Pi (ADpie), Alpha Gamma Delta (Gams), Zeta Tau Alpha (Zetas) and Alpha Phi.

Every fall, residents would see toga parties. It was not unusual for all fours houses to have something on the same weekend and thousands of students would migrate from house to house. The Zeta Psi house on Wilmot Place had uncanny similarity to the exterior look of Animal House. It also had three bars on three floors and a vending machine that distributed beer cans courtesy of Molson.

It is obvious that gentrification pushed the frats out. The Zetes and Dekes found places elsewhere but the trend against frats and the costs of running the houses eventually meant they were all sold. The frats continue to exist but nothing since their heyday when there was truly a fraternity row of sorts in Osborne.

The design requirements for condos conversions for houses truly is for the very rich. Even at an average of 923 square feet, the condos proposed for Stradbook are large compared to many units. The city planners want only 6 units rather than 8 and an average of 1,200 square feet.

The accusation is that there will be too much traffic. The city means specifically the back lane will be affected and that 350 cars will be added with just under 4 trips per day average.

I think this ignores all the evidence that people choose to live in the area because of the density and often walk, bike or use transit for their needs. The traffic problems of Osborne Village are that of commuters traversing the area going to and from somewhere else.

City Planners are worried that this will be the start of many more smaller condo units in the village. We should be so lucky. This has somehow evolved into fears about everyone having cars and using them as frequently as people do in the suburbs.

I don't discount the traffic in the area but a 1,200 square foot policy is for rich people. And many people who buy condos in Osborne Village will have good access to grocery stores and the like. Heck, the walk from Stradbrook to Safeway is on par with the distance it takes to walk from the back of a suburban shopping lot to the mall.

Let this project go through. I can't see the problems being anywhere close to making Osborne a bad place to live.

Or perhaps they would like 12 frat boys back in the house and toga parties on Friday?


Paul Hesse said...

John, thanks for the info. I use that backlane, since I live on Wardlaw.

I welcome the plan to bring life to an abandoned, boarded-up house. Like you, I also am not terribly concerned by traffic concerns (in my own backlane).

John Dobbin said...

Paul: Corrected some of the typos from earlier version. Was still half asleep when writing it.

I was shocked to see what city planners are proposing for average sized condos in the area. They are very large and pricey.

I realize that planning is important but I just don't see this type of rule serving the community. There needs to be a mix of sizes of homes. They can't call be River Heights sized.

SUNMAN said...

Looks like Gerbasi and her "friend" at the planning department forgot about their left leaning roots and have decided to support rich guys housing in the village. If only her constituents new the truth!